How to Explain Gaps in your Resume?

Got gaps in your resume? We are not talking about the 10-15 days of gap where you were waiting to join another organisation. We are talking about a gap of months and years. There could be several reasons why you have an employment gap. This includes raising children, health issues, pursuing further studies, confusion with career choices, taking care of a sick relative, travelling and as simple as they needed a break. While these kinds of gaps are by choice, some of them are due to layoffs which may seem hard to explain.

Employment gaps are usually considered as a scary term, whereas it is the other way round! All you need to know is how to present those gaps in front of the recruiter. Here is what you need to do:

Positive Outlook

It may seem a little hard to have a positive outlook while we are talking about employment gaps, but it is not impossible. Your resume gap will come up during an interview, so instead of having a negative outlook towards it, be optimistic. This would help you explain the time off better. Once you accept that your resume gaps are okay, you can explain the interviewer calmly. Tell them how you made a good use of your time. Did you freelance and learn new things about the job you’re applying or did you realise what your true passion in life is? If you were recovering from mental health issues and stress, let them know how this would help you concentrate better at work.

Be Honest

It is a myth that if you do not cover your employment gaps, the recruiters won’t shortlist your profile. Be honest about your employment gap. Recruiters are humans too, and any reasonable human would understand. If your resume gap is less than 6 months, you don’t have to elucidate at all. If it is more than that and you have a reasonable explanation, add it in your resume. Example- January 2019 to February 2020- Recovering From a Surgery.

Writing your employment dates without the month is a big no! Employers then know that you have something to hide. Another thing you need to keep in mind while explaining your employment gap is to make it as simple as possible. If you were travelling, and you say that you were helping build an NGO, they’d know that you are lying.

Take Charge

There is no way that the interviewer would overlook the gap in your resume. He/She would mention it, then why not do it yourself? Be proactive and talk about it. Let the interviewer know about this break and the reasons behind it. Including it in your cover letter could be a good idea. If you made good use of your time by volunteering somewhere, freelancing, or by working on a passion project, mention it! This would influence the recruiter into believing that you are secure about these gaps as well as pretty confident.

Be Smart About What You Say

As stated above, you definitely have to be honest while explaining your employment gaps in your resume, but at the same time, you need to know how to represent it. You need to use correct words and tone so it does not seem like you are flaky and inconsistent. Let’s take some examples:

  • Travelling-
  • Do Not Say: I was so tired of working and wanted to party a little. I thought why not take a break?

    Say: I spent several years working in a very demanding job, and had reached a stage were focusing on my personal growth would not have harmed my career growth. I decided to go on a cultural learning experience, hence I travelled a little. Now, I am all rejuvenated and ready to jump back in again.

  • Taking Care of A Relative-
  • Do Not Say: Since there is no one else, I had to take care of my mother. It was getting impossible to work at a job with such long hours alongside taking care of my mom.

    Say: In the beginning, I juggled between the two things which were working just fine, but after a lot of thought I decided that my priority is my mother. I wanted to take care of her full time. While I was taking care of her, I made sure to update my professional skills every now and then.

These are just 2 examples of how you frame your answers! If you know your words, you are good to go!

As a jobseeker, you might think that resume gaps can ruin your interview, but that is completely false. If anything, they can make you seem more desirable than a candidate with consistent work experience. All you have to do is explain these gaps confidently. Let the employer know that you made good use of your time, and if possible making it seem like a planned would be a great step.